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Author Topic: Who can tell me more about this antique twin-cylinder steam engine?  (Read 392 times)

Ferry

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(This is my first post to this forum. I am a Dutch optical engineer, I live in The Netherlands so you may notice English is not my first language.)

I am a proud owner of an antique toy steam engine (see YouTube video below) and I am hoping members of this forum can help me identify my engine model type and tell me more about its origin. I am particularly interested in learning exactly what model type number it is, in what year(s) this model was built, if there is any known original documentation on this engine (sales catalogues, user manual), things like that. I would also appreciate any advice on how to properly look after this antique engine.

Some background. My grandfather gave me this toy engine when I was 10 years old in 1985. My grandfather was born in 1911, he had owned the engine since he was a young boy so I guess it was given to him by my great-grandparents. When my grandfather learned he had cancer he tried to find a new (knowledgeable) owner for this engine. Initially he tried to give it as a present to an acquaintance who was a collector of small steam engines and who lived in the same town of Zaandam near Amsterdam. This person gracefully refused to accept the engine telling my grandfather that he thought the model too special and valuable to accept and suggested it should stay in the family. That is when my grandfather gave it to me, being the oldest grandson. I think he was a little concerned about me being able to take care of this engine on account of me being 10 years old. So he made sure we visited his acquaintance, who then showed me his collection and taught me how to fill the boiler, what the function of the overpressure valve is, how to apply a few drops of oil before running it, how to gently clean it,  things like that. I have always loved this little engine and I remember giving a science talk at school at the age of 10 on how this twin-cylinder double action engine works. I had diagrams showing how the double action works and I actually fired the engine in the class room.

I fire the engine about once a year using denatured alcohol as liquid fuel. Last Christmas I ran it again and (being in lockdown) decided to see if with the help of Google I could find out more about the origins of this engine. Initially I found some single-cylinder engines by the German Gebrüder Bing brand that contained some parts that seemed identical or almost identical to some parts in my engine. But than I found a very thin and barely visible logo on the wooden base that says ‘G.C. & Co. N.’. which with the help of Google I learned is the George Carette company in Nürnberg, Germany. I also learned that George Carette was a pre-WW1 supplier of parts and/or complete products to Bing and that they were both located in Nürnberg. From similar looking engines that I found online I conclude that my engine is a model from around 1905-1911. If this is correct than it is quite likely that my great-grandfather bought this engine initially for himself as my grandfather was born in 1911. I did not manage to find the model type number and thus I also did not manage to find a more exact year of manufacturing. In fact I found very few twin-cylinder engines by George Carette and the ones that I did find were all in relative poor shape or incomplete (e.g. with the smokestack missing). I learned that some George Carette catalogues can be found online, but I did not find one that shows my engine.

Yesterday I put below video with a request for more information on YouTube. Within a few hours ‘Nick’s steam toys and more’ was so kind to add a comment to the video: “Very nice, there are some very knowledgeable collectors on this site: https://www.officeofsteamforum.com/index.php I believe one of them has an engine just like this.”  That is how I learned about this forum.

To make a long story short, I hope you enjoy the video and I look forward to your comments. I would love to hear from anyone who recognizes this model (or even happens to own one!) and can tell me more about it. I also have a few antique tin toys that can be powered by the engine. If you are interested I can share some photos of those as well. Thank you for your help.



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UHw7SGahZkA&t=37s

St Paul Steam

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Helo Ferry , greetings & warm welcome to the forum, Nick told you correctly....there is probably someone here that can help you with the ID on this wonderful engine , I love the story behind it & thanks for joining us.
Bruce
St. Paul Indiana , USA

oilfield_steam

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Welcome Ferry.

Ditto with Bruce's comment... the engine is very nice, but the story is priceless.

I have no doubt the Forum will be able to help out with an id. Exact dates (year) of manufacture is often difficult, but a range of years is usually possible.

Scott
Scott

Nick

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Good to see you made it over here, love the story that goes with your engine. I think I actually found it in my Carette book... I believe it is a 642/1 (picture soon)

By the way, we would love to see your other tin toys that can be powered by the engine  ;)
Nick

parallelmotion

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Hello Ferry,
It's wonderful that you have this history of ownership within your family. Your research is very good and the engine is indeed from the 1905 to 1911 period or a few years later. Attached is a scan from the 1911 Carette catalog reprint. Your engine, depending on its size, is one of the 642 model series shown.

I also have two Carette twin cylinder engines from this period which you can see in the video below.

https://youtu.be/E6YnX38dFEg

Nick

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Nick

Nick

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Oops, Brent beat me by a minute  :D

I believe it is the 642/1 as the larger sizes all have water gauge
Nick

RedRyder

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Welcome aboard, Ferry...!!!

from Connecticut USA.

As said above..... a lovely engine with a history that is priceless.

Gil

Ferry

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Thank you all for the warm welcome!

@Nick and @Parellelmotion: these are great finds, thank you SO MUCH for looking this up and for sharing! This means a lot to me. This is a successful identification: my engine is indeed absolutely identical to the images you posted of the 642/1 type!

Your posts also made me search for ‘1911 Carette catalog reprint’ and I found a couple of references to a 1979 book “The Great Toys of Georges Carette” by Allen Levy. Is that the book that you are referring to? Must be a rare book as copies are offered at pretty high prices (range of US$100-300). The images suggest that all parts of my 642/1 are original (or at least as shown in the images), with the exception of the burner. My burner has a longer handle, which is straight instead of curved. I guess it makes sense that a burner has a shorter lifetime than the other parts so it would have been replaced at some point during the past 100+ years.

While researching online I had already found the YouTube video that @Parellelmotion posted. Those engines are real beauties and obviously strongly related to my 642/1! Are those the original colors? Is anyone aware of any forum members that may own an actual 642/1 like mine? It would be so much fun to see photos of other 642/1s.

In my first post I mentioned some tin toys that can be powered by the 642/1. Below I added a photo of these items. Does anyone recognize these? I didn’t research them yet but it would be great to learn more about these as well. One thing I find a bit puzzling now is that they are in a much more worn (and damaged) state than the engine. Clearly, the engine was cared for better than these items, which is a bit strange if they all always belonged to my (great)grandfather. I am going to check with my mother if she knows why this might be so. By the way, I am sure she will be as thrilled as I am about these finds! My mother always believed that my grandfather was the first owner of this engine (I don’t recall if my grandfather told me anything about this). However, given what we know now about the George Carette company, this 1911 catalog and the fact that my grandfather was born in 1911, it seems unlikely that my grandfather was the first owner.

Now we have positive identification, do you have any advice on how to make sure this antique engine stays in good condition? At present I am primarily concerned about the smokestack. It is made of sheet metal with a dark blue color coating. I see some corrosion that appears to be damaging the blue coating. Does this sound familiar for these old machines? Is there a way to prevent it from getting worse?

I am going to collect and write down what I have learned so far (including the family history) and print it as an information package that will be stored with the engine.

This has turned out to be a very interesting fact finding journey. It has already made me look for other George Carette and Bing steam engines that are offered for sale in The Netherlands. Should I be worried I am infected with a new hobby-bug? 😊

Nick

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Yes, my pictures were taken from the 1979 reprint by Allen Levy.

Your man at the table saw is made by Bing (there should be a stamping on the base), the other two I am not sure about...

The smokestack bluing can be protected by wiping with oil. Ballistol is a very good product to protect it longer. It’s good on most surfaces but be careful as it can affect some paints...

I do hope the steam bug bites hard and you end up with many more engines  ;)  ;D
Nick

oilfield_steam

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Scott

yussufhippo

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Thanks very much for posting the photo and the information here.

A wonderful engine, representing a really special Nuremberg/Nürnberg toy (steam) manufacturer.

I would love to add one of these two-cylinder engines to my small Carette collection. There are only few other engines to beat this one, e.g. a Carette two-cylinder with reversing mechanism (or, of course, the legendary Carette "Industrielokomobile", but that one is even more out of my personal price range...)

I also remember vividly that it took me quite some time (and some slanting autumn sun rays) to find the trademark embossed in the wooden base. I do like the story behind this engine. Thank you again for sharing it.

All the best from southern Germany
Thomas

Woe is me

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Welcome to the Forum from Michigan.
That's a beautiful little engine, and a beautiful history to go with it.
Truly a family heirloom. Never sell it, never trade it. Pass it on to a
younger family member when they are ready to use it, maintain it,
and appreciate it, and its history.
To steam or not to steam, that is the questi,,,,,,Ah shut up and "Steam it, like you mean it."        Tommy.

Steamloco

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Hello and welcome from Illinois! Well preserved engine and great history behind it.
Give us this day our daily Steam
And deliver us from Diesels
          Bret

tenniV11

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I also have made investigation for this model - and yes you all have been right.
The Carette is 642/1 from the 1911 catalog and it is 100% in original Status. It is
the smallest one of five variants. You only may clean it up with a little sewing machine
oil. A very nice engine of that time and good story too. Sorry I am so late....
Arnold


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